Carfree city

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A carfree city or car free city is a population center that relies primarily on public transport, walking, or cycling for transport within the urban area. Carfree cities greatly reduce petroleum dependency, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, automobile crashes, noise pollution, and traffic congestion. Some cities have one or more districts where motorized vehicles are prohibited, referred to as car-free zones. Many older cities in Europe, Asia, and Africa were founded centuries before the advent of the automobile, and some continue to have carfree areas in the oldest parts of the city -- especially in areas where it is impossible for cars to fit, e.g. in narrow alleys.


A theoretical design for a carfree city of one million people was first proposed by J.H. Crawford in 1996 and further refined in his books, Carfree Cities[1] and Carfree Design Manual.[2]


Some proposed car free cities are government planned and funded, such as Masdar city and The "Great City" in China,[3] while others are planned privately such as The Venus Project designs. In cities that are free of roads there is not a need for taxation to pay for the roads.


Further information: Braess' paradox

Braess' paradox states that "for each point of a road network, let there be given the number of cars starting from it, and the destination of the cars. Under these conditions one wishes to estimate the distribution of traffic flow. Whether one street is preferable to another depends not only on the quality of the road, but also on the density of the flow. If every driver takes the path that looks most favorable to him, the resultant running times need not be minimal. Furthermore, it is indicated by an example that an extension of the road network may cause a redistribution of the traffic that results in longer individual running times."

An existing city can be made a car-free city by strategic closures of streets to car traffic and by opening streets and squares to exclusive pedestrian use. A pedestrian and bicycle network gradually emerges and joins several parts of the city. Similarly, prompted by the same need to avoid conflicts with car traffic and enhance pedestrian movement, pedestrian networks have emerged below street level (Underground City) or above road-level to connect large downtown areas. For new areas on the fringe of cities or new towns, two new complementary ideas have recently emerged. The concept of Filtered Permeability (2007) and a model for planning towns and subdivisions - the Fused Grid (2003). Both focus on shifting the balance of network design in favour of pedestrian and bicycle mobility.


In Ghent, in Belgium, the entire city heart is car free: public transport, taxis and permit holders may enter but not exceed 5 km/h. In Strøget, Copenhagen, there is a large downtown car free shopping area.

The city of Venice serves as an example of how a modern city can function without cars. This design was unintentional as the city was founded over 1,500 years ago, a long time before the invention of the automobile. Visitors who drive to the city or residents who own a car must park their car in a carpark outside of the city and then proceed either by foot or train into the city. The predominant method of transportation in the city is by foot, however most residents travel by motorised waterbuses (vaporetti) which travel the city's canals.[citation needed]

Another example of a carfree place is Mackinac Island, where cars are banned and the main transportation is by means of horses, bicycles, and boats.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crawford, J.H. (2000). Carfree Cities. International Books. ISBN 978-90-5727-037-6. 
  2. ^ Crawford, J.H. (2009). Carfree Design Manual. International Books. ISBN 978-90-5727-060-4. 
  3. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Hart, Stanley I. & Alvin L. Spivak. The Elephant in the Bedroom: Automobile Dependence & Denial : Impacts on the Economy and Environment. Hope Publishing House, 1993.
  • Kay, Jane Holtz. Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America, And How We Can Take It Back. University of California Press. 1998.
  • Marshall, Alex. How Cities Work : Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken. University of Texas Press, 2001.
  • Newman, P & Kenworthy, J. Cities and Sustainability: Overcoming automobile dependence. Island Press. 1998.
  • Wright, L. Car-Free Development. Eschborn: GTZ, 2005.

External links[edit]